Written by Errol Summerlin of Portland Citizens United. Article originally posted in Caller Times.
Remember all the billboards Exxon had on display? “We’re listening,” they said.
Residents of Portland, the City Council, and the school board told them the location was too near schools and neighborhoods; they didn’t listen, choosing their own interests over ours.
We told them we didn’t have the water to support their operations; they didn’t listen, telling us we will have to address our water needs by building desalination plants sooner than later.
We told them they weren’t giving us enough information about their emissions; they didn’t listen, claiming confidentiality.
We told them the polyethylene pellets would endanger our fish and birds; they didn’t listen; the demand (and profits) in selling plastics to developing nations could not be ignored.
We told them the temperature of their industrial wastewater discharge into Corpus Christi Bay was too hot; they didn’t listen. TCEQ says we can wait and see.
We told them their storm water runoff will exacerbate flooding, especially in Gregory; they didn’t listen, leaving it to the drainage district to figure out.
Now, we tell them to reduce their emissions. They respond by saying they meet the standards set by TCEQ. Well, the contested case will determine if they are in fact meeting those standards.
But, Exxon, you’re not listening. We want you to set higher standards for yourself; we want you to set higher standards for your industry; we want you and your Saudi Royal Family partners to spend all the resources required to employ the most advanced engineering practices and technology to further reduce your emissions; we want you to engage scientists, engineers, chemists, and technology experts around the globe to enlist their practices and ideas to set a higher bar for cleaner air and water, such as flare reduction, reusing water from operations to achieve near-zero discharge, and using treated municipal wastewater as a source for operations.
We don’t know how much the Saudi Royal Family earned last year, but you reported $19.7 billion in earnings in 2017. Don’t just meet the standard; take a little time and spend what is required to set a higher bar to reduce the environmental impacts on our communities and ecosystems. If you choose not to listen again, remember we didn’t want you here in the first place.